What is qualitative research?

It is safe to say I enter this qualitative research class without a clear-cut idea of what it actually is.  Before my current job I would stop after the period with no idea of how-to breakdown the definition.  After developing data analytics training content, although I am still a novice, I do have some basis.  I know that qualitative data are values that can’t be measured numerically but are described through language.  This encompasses ordinal data which is a fixed ranking with an indeterminate distance between values, and nominal data which has distinguishable values but can’t be put in order.  Although this is not exactly a definition for qualitative research it does possess the same idea.

My definition is slightly adjusted after spending a little time with the textbook.  Qualitative research is the pursuit to understand varying perspectives and experiences of the people being studied, to give meaning and identify phenomena.  It isn’t systematic and can’t be generalized with data.  Instead it requires observation in natural settings, context of the challenge being pursued and a neutral position.

I am eager to learn more about qualitative research processes, since it appears to be an approach that fits my research goals.  Being a person that does not bode well with structure it is exciting to see a scientific process that can evaluate contextual details that fall outside of the box.

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